The Norse and Celtic contributions to the founding population of Iceland have been estimated previously on a pan-Icelandic basis using gene frequency data for the entire island. Accounts of the settlement of Iceland, however, suggest that different regions received different proportions of Norse and Celtic settlers, indicating the need to incorporate geographic variation into Icelandic admixture studies. A formal likelihood ratio test rejects the null hypothesis of regional homogeneity in admixture proportions. Here, regional admixture estimates for Iceland are reported; they are in agreement with the settlement pattern inferred from historical accounts. The western, northern, and southern regions of Iceland exhibit a moderate Celtic component, consistent with historical indications that these regions were settled by Norse Vikings from the British Isles, accompanied by Celtic wives and slaves. Eastern Iceland, believed to have been settled chiefly by Vikings from Scandinavia, is characterized by a large Norse component of admixture. The northwestern peninsula is also found to be predominantly Norse. Regional genetic data are used to elucidate the contemporary population structure of Iceland. The observed structure correlates well with patterns of Icelandic geography, history, economy, marriage, urbanization, and internal migration. The northeastern region is strongly isolated, the urbanized areas of the north and southwest are representative of the overall population, and the remaining regions exhibit small-scale variation about the genetic central tendency. A high level of genetic homogeneity is indicated (RST = 0.0005), consistent with the high internal migration rate of the Icelanders. A regression of mean per-locus heterozygosity on distance from the gene frequency centroid reveals a greater than average external gene flow into the eastern region, whereas the northwestern peninsula has received less than average external gene flow. Iceland is compared with possible founding populations and was found to have diverged markedly from other northern European countries.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||25|
|Journal||Human biology; an international record of research|
|State||Published - Apr 1993|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics